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I Can Do Hard Things

yoga on cliff

I CAN DO HARD THINGS.

This phrase has been scripted in various forms on Pinterest lately.

Such a simple, almost childlike, phrase, but it has become my mantra lately.

 – When the physicality of my job threatens to leave me in a heap on the floor.

– When I am missing my kids and extended family to the point of tears.

– When uncomfortable situations arise that make me want to run the other way.

– When I need to adjust my attitude and it’s at the bottom of the list of things I want to do.

– When God asks me to do something that falls way outside the limitations of my comfort box.

Have you been there?

It seems that each day has a few times in it when this phrase needs to be applied.

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I CAN DO HARD THINGS.

Whether it’s the discipline to do or NOT to do certain things or simply taking a step in the right direction, I say this phrase out loud to myself as a reminder.

And at the tail end of this phrase, Jesus brings the words that always need to follow…

“through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Breaking my mantra down further, helps me grasp this truth as reality –

I can do hard things – I was created to face this decision, this experience, this circumstance.  God allowed it or brought me to it or it to me for a reason. (Romans 8:28)

I  CAN  do hard things – It is possible.  When everything points to CAN’T, God tells me I can, with the strength of His presence and His promises. (Matthew 19:26)

I can DO hard things – This is an active, not passive, phrase.  I’m not meant to just think or worry or stew about it.  I can do something about it because God and His word are alive and active in me. (Hebrews 4:12)

I can do HARD things – I was made to face obstacles and difficulties, not just the easy and comfortable things in life.  I am equipped to handle the unexpected, the undesirable and the disappointing because of the words of God Himself.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

I can do hard THINGS – No matter how difficult a decision or action or situation is, they are still just things.  Things that can’t stop God’s love or plan for me, and are most like things that will only reveal His love and plan more clearly. (Romans 8:38-39)

I. CAN. DO. HARD. THINGS.

Not because of who I am, but because of what I am – His Daughter – and who He is – My Father, my Counselor, my Friend.  The all-powerful Source who gives me life and breath and eternity.

How could I NOT do hard things?

I am picking one hard thing today to face boldly with this phrase and the promises of God.  De-staging a 5800 square foot house while physically fatigued.

What will you choose today?  Just one thing that you will walk into with the power and presence of Jesus giving you strength and the ability to do what needs to be done.

I would love to hear what you chose and how God revealed His strength in and through you, true to His word, as you stepped forward in faith and confidence!

YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS!!!!

(By the time I posted this, I was finished with my 5800 sq foot de-staging job.  It was long day with lots of sweat and sore muscles.  It was HARD.  But God gave me the strength to complete the task.  He provided my new partner in crime – my new friend and business partner, Charmaine – to help with the enormity of the job.  He gave me everything necessary to do what I needed to do.  I really can do hard things….:-) )

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And Now, A Word From Janay…

Good morning!!!!

Today’s post is from my daughter, Janay, in Cambodia.

It corresponded so closely to what I was reading today about Jesus weeping with those He loved in their grief (John 11) that I couldn’t help but share.

(She will be home for a month at the end of July and this mama can hardly wait!!!!)

Hello!

This update is long overdue, but it will also be a pretty short one, so bear with me.

Last week, Tuesday to be precise, I was at work when I got word of a fire that broke out less than a mile north of our ministry “headquarters” in Svay Pak.

Without going into too much detail, a domestic dispute caused the fire, which ended up destroying 11 homes, affecting 13 families. Several of the people who lost everything are AIM employees. Rumor has it that when the firefighters arrived, they wouldn’t put out the fire until someone paid a bribe. While this isn’t confirmed, I believe that it is most likely true. Things have been weighing heavily in my heart ever since. Particularly in regards to caring for the poor.

Who is there to protect the poor? Even those who are put in place as public servants (police, firefighters) can’t be trusted. Of course, it goes far deeper than that, and isn’t so simple. Either way, my head has been spinning.

Among the people who lost everything is a newlywed couple, Borey and Monea. One day I went to go look at the damage and ran into Borey who looked at me with confident eyes and an enthusiastic smile. Without any fear, doubt, or anger in his eyes he praised God that no one died, and said with belief that he knew something good was going to come out of this. Yes, he lost everything, but knew this wasn’t the end.

Another friend of mine, Siny, was feeling the weight of what was lost. While her home was not damaged, the homes of her siblings, parents, and grandparents were destroyed. Life savings were lost, their dog, chickens, family heirlooms. Siny, like Borey wasn’t shaken. She did however, understand the weight of needing to step in for her family and help rebuild.

It was really cool to see the Church in Svay Pak spring into action, not missing a step, and rallying together to help provide for these 13 families. A true representation of the Church.

The following day, I was scrolling through the news and read about what was going on in Charleston. Senseless violence. Overt racism. People who are very dear to me, living in Charleston, were trying to come to terms with what had happened. How can you come to terms with something like that?

Stories of forgiveness for Dylann, by family members of the deceased, began making headlines. Stories of hope, unity. What was meant for separation, hate, and destruction, had turned into something unifying, loving, and grace-filled.

Two tragedies this week. Two completely avoidable tragedies. While both are devastating, I am not trying to compare the two (can you really compare that?), I am just trying to wrap my own mind around both of these events, and the different types of injustice that are weaved in both. It could take a while.

The day I found out about the fire, I found comfort in Psalm 46.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when the morning dawns.
Nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

The name of the church in Charleston is Emanuel, which means ‘God with us.’

I will be going to America next month for a few weeks as a break. The timing probably couldn’t be better. This year, unlike last year, I will be primarily staying in California. If you want to come visit the San Francisco area, please let me know! You will have a free place to stay, and my mom will probably bake a lot of desserts. :)

I have also started writing in my blog again, if you are interested in reading any of those thoughts. You will probably find something new up very, very soon. :) Link is at the bottom.

If you are able and feel led to help the people in Svay Pak rebuild their homes, the best way to do that is through the AIM website, which you can access here.

Thank you for your prayers, and your generous support of me. Thank you for reading the words on this page with understanding, even when I am not expressing everything quite the way I mean. I feel very blessed knowing that there is an army out there who cares not only for me, but for the injustices that are happening all over the world. It can get overwhelming, can’t it?

I guess if I know nothing else right now, I know that God is with us all, in everything.

Love you all, and sorry for such a sad update. I’m sure a happy one will be coming soon!

-j

Prayer & Praise Reports:

PRAISE:

  • No one was killed in the fire
  • AIM is moving forward in getting more girls who were trafficked to China repatriated to Cambodia
  • Continued protection in health and safety
  • For the community that I have been given

PRAYER

  • Pray for the street kids, their protection, and fragile hearts.
  • For the Charleston community, families who lost loved ones, and Dylann Roof
  • Pray for the rebuilding of Svay Pak
  • For the Cambodian government, that there is accountability for the corruption.
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June 2015 Newsletter

To reach me please email:
janay.jarvis@gmail.com

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Taking The Stage

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I do not know the ending

A distant memory, the start

The plot, it thins then thickens

Rewriting each scene’s part

Today I am a hero

Then the maiden in distress

Tuesday’s word might be a “no”

Which might bring Wednesday’s “yes”

This is life, so unrehearsed

The ever-changing story

Tragic in its rawest form

Brilliant in its glory

Every day the curtain rises

Revealing joy or strife

And there I stand, no script in hand

My unrehearse-ed life.

The Playwright is a genius

He takes the cast and crew

Weaves them through this saga

Old characters and new

Comedy and tragedy

Grab hands to take a bow

Once enemies upon this stage

They stand in friendship now

This is life, so unrehearsed

The ever-changing story

Tragic in its rawest form

Brilliant in its glory

Each day the curtain rises

Revealing joy or strife

And there I stand, no script in hand

My unrehearse-ed life.

Sometimes I am the dancer

Music in my head

Next scene I am the wallflower

Wilting, almost dead

But all these parts and all these scenes

Were written just for me

The beautiful, the ugly

The grief and ecstasy

This is life, so unrehearsed

The ever-changing story

Tragic in its rawest form

Brilliant in its glory

Each day the curtain rises

Revealing joy or strife

And there I stand, no script in hand

My unrehearse-ed life.

I do not know my next line

Or when the curtains close

But I will run to this day’s stage

I know the One who knows….

Jeremiah 29:11 –  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Psalm 139:13-16 – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

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Let It Rain

(This was written yesterday, when I woke to unexpected rain…)

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It’s raining.

As I sit here at my desk looking out at the parched ground drinking in every sweet drop of beautiful hydration, my heart sighs.

It’s a really big deal when it rains here.

We are in a drought and two days ago we experienced the scorching heat of 104 degrees.  That kind of heat that hits you in the face like an open oven door when you head out. The kind of heat that withers everything living that it touches.

Everyone was relieved when the temperatures dropped down to the eighties yesterday and the clouds began to roll in.  Afraid to hope that rain might be a possibility, we let ourselves bask in the cloud cover, that, if nothing else, gave us a buffer from the intensity of the sun.

Around here, we treasure overcast days.

I’ve learned to love the rain.

Strange, coming from a native of Washington State, who used to wish for sunny days to interrupt the run of clouds and drizzle.

It’s all perspective, isn’t it?

But I think it’s more than just wanting what you can’t have.

I think that having lived away from the Northwest for the past 12 years and residing in sunshine states, I can now fully appreciate the purpose and effect of the rain.

Even though today the skies are an ugly gray and the weather will make my job a little more frustrating, it’s a really good and necessary thing.

It’s refreshment.  

Drops from heaven meant to nourish and grow the ground and all it produces.

Drops that soften the hard, dry earth and clean the hot, stale air.

I can almost see brown spots in the grass turning to green.

And that makes the difficulty and dreariness of a gray day something to be celebrated and deeply valued.

Rain used to make me sad.  It used to discourage me.  I continually wished it away.

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But I’ve learned to appreciate those drops from the sky as a blessing and not a curse.

What if we could look at life’s rainy days like that?

Those really, really hard and dreary days as something to see differently.

It really IS all about perspective.

What if we could see disappointments and pain as purposeful and effective not only in our own lives but for something bigger than ourselves?

What if we saw difficulty as the refreshment our soul needs to grow a little deeper, a little more connected to the heart of Jesus?

What if we could visualize our tears as the rain that will nourish our all-too-often drought-stricken hearts that need to be broken just enough to let those healing drops soak in?

drop of rain on leaf

The rain will come and then it will go.

But instead of wishing it away today, I’m going to turn my head toward the sky, open my mouth and taste the goodness of God and his divine purpose in every drop.

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And instead of crying in that rain, I will smile.

I’m learning to love the rain….

Psalm 68:9 – You sent abundant rain, O God, to refresh the weary land.

Isaiah 45:8 – “Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it.”

Matthew 4:24-27 – Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

Hebrews 6:7 – For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God….

Genesis 2:5 – Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to LET IT RAIN. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Nothing Is For Nothing

person standing with back to camera

You know those times when “life” things go caddywompus and you’re left scratching your head and saying, “What the….?”

On Monday I had a job that was nearly an hour away.  It was a large home which meant two trips back and forth for me, lugging decor.

It required a full day’s worth of time, effort and creativity and a heck of a lot of driving.

I was really happy with the final result, and was excited to see how the professional pictures would turn out.

My job was done.

But not even 24 hours later, I got a call from the realtor.  The client had changed his mind and decided not to put his house on the market.

I wanted to cry.

All that hard work, and for what?

It seemed like it had been a complete waste of time.

What could possibly have been the point?

As I drove back yesterday to retrieve everything I’d so carefully placed, I found myself disappointed and frustrated.  Why hadn’t this decision been made prior to my involvement?

And then it hit me.

Nothing is for nothing.

I stopped to think about that idea. It really was true in this case. Despite the irritation and disappointment, there were certain things that had happened even in that brief amount of time.

I had gotten the chance to meet new people, to develop new skills, to discover a new place.  Physically, mentally, and now emotionally, I had been challenged, which meant that growth was in the works.

In the smallest of ways, I was not the same person coming out as I was going in.

Learning took place.  Experience happened.  New tools were added to my skill set.

The decor I took from that residence went straight into my next job.  An even bigger house that would require every bit of inventory I had.

Unexpected dismantling was actually a blessing in disguise.

As I hauled each crate of decor up the stairs and into this new property, sweat dripping and body aching, I could feel my muscles working, stretching, growing.  Mentally, creatively, physically.

And I smiled.

Nothing is for nothing.

Now, let’s be honest.  This was a very minor inconvenience in comparison to other things that have truly rocked my world.

I’ve face deep heartache and loss.  Great failure and pain. Grief too deep for words. The times that things have not gone as I would have planned in life are too numerous to count.

But EVERY SINGLE TIME it’s been true.  That promise from God Himself:

Nothing is for nothing.

Without fail, I have come away changed for the better when I let God do His thing in me and in the circumstances I face.

Do you ever feel like, “God, seriously, what was the point of THIS?”

Disappointment.

Illness.

A broken heart.

A shattered dream.

Financial stress.

Maybe it came out of the blue, maybe it’s something that’s been going on for a while.  You feel you don’t deserve it That it’s not fair.

You probably don’t and it’s probably not.

It doesn’t make sense, didn’t go according to plan.

But God says,  “Nothing is for nothing.”

Every little unexpected, frustrating, painful, disappointing part of life has purpose.

Potential for growth and depth.

You can come through it, accompanied by God’s loving grace, a different and stronger person.  

And right in the middle of whatever it is that has left you wondering, scratching your head, even doubting God’s intentions, you can discover the gems of an experience that can turn you into something a little better than you were yesterday.

Nothing is for nothing.

That’s a promise….

Romans 8:28 –  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Galatians 6:9 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

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You Have The Key And You Know How To Use It

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I invested in a storage unit for my business yesterday.

Silly as it sounds, I felt like such a big girl.

My very own lock and key.

As the manager walked me to my designated space for the first time, I got this weird little feeling in my stomach that I like to call “happy tummy”.  Strange, I know, but this 8×10 foot space was going to represent more room in my converted garage for all of my staging inventory.

Who wouldn’t have happy tummy?

But as I lifted the retractable door of my answer to clutter, my cheerful gut swallowed hard.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but 8×10 looked especially small.  Maybe it was because it resembled a jail cell with its cement walls and lack of windows.

Or maybe it was because 8×10 is just that.  Eight feet by ten feet.

It became obvious that I was going to have to be extremely deliberate in what I chose to put there.  

Because, unlike other storage units, this one’s contents need to be extremely accessible.  I need to be able to get in there and find what I need and be able to retrieve it quickly and efficiently on a daily basis.

This knowledge sounded a little too much like organized planning to my scattered brain. Happy tummy exited that tiny building.

I had to know what I WAS and WASN’T going to put in there.

It came down to this:  I would put into this storage unit what wouldn’t fit on my industrial sized shelves at home.

Things that required special storage.

Framed art and small furniture.

There.  I’d done it.

I’d narrowed it down to two things.  THIS my brain could maneuver around.

And happy tummy returned.

There was relief in knowing that I’d found a safe place to store valuable things.  An easily accessible spot that would allow me to pull items out as needed.

I had the key, and now I knew how to use it.

It wasn’t a far stretch to see how my heart and mind resemble this storage unit.  Too small for everything in the world to fit into.  A limited space that needs intentional filling.  A place where it’s necessary for things to be accessible and retrievable.

Things like Jesus’ words.

His promises.

His promptings.

My heart and mind, like that little storage cell of mine, need to be safe and protected.  Valuable contents locked in place, so I know right where to find them when I need them.

If I’m deliberate in what I allow into my heart and mind, if Jesus’ words and promises and promptings fill the space, then there are certain things that just won’t fit.

Things like worry.

Fear.

Anxious thoughts.

These things would only serve to clutter and confuse.  They would take up valuable space and hide the things that I need access to.

They can try to make their way in.  They can beat on the door of my heart and mind.

But they can’t get in unless I let them in.

Because I have the key.  And I know how to use it.

 – How is the storage unit of your heart and mind?

– Is it so full of extra “stuff” that you can’t get to what you really need?

– Is it time to downsize its contents, and fill it back up with Jesus’ words, promises and promptings?

– Do you remember that the key is right in your own pocket and that you DO know how to use it?

Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

Psalm 119:11 – I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Matthew 6:19-21 – Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

2 Peter 1:4 – Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature…

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Learning To Lean From Man’s Best Friend

photo 2-7The other day I witnessed this.  

That rare occasion when these two gave me a photo worthy moment and actually sat still long enough for me to capture it.

What words come to mind when you look a little closer?

Companionship?

Contentment?

Trust?

They actually leaned into each other and just rested there.  I have no idea what they were looking at.  Probably nothing at all.

It wasn’t about the view.

They were simply enjoying their camaraderie. Taking a moment to savor whatever it is that goes through a dog’s mind when she’s sitting next to her best friend.

So simple and heartwarming.

Such a good reminder.

“Man’s best friend” gave me a visual of the truth of man’s Best Friend.

In the excited scurry of a very busy life, sometimes I forget to stop and lean into my Best Friend.  To sit and look out the window of life and see it from His vantage point.

If I would remember to be still and just lean in for a moment, things would look very different.

Because, in the blur of breakneck speed, my vision is skewed.

I see things as bigger than they really are and worry.

I see a roadblock and name it an impossibility.

I experience setbacks or disappointments and see them as futility.

But when I stop to mentally and spiritually lean into The One who gave me this life,

I see possibility instead of improbability.

I see purpose in pain and disappointment.

“Big things” shrink through the scope of His presence. 

Just knowing He’s there puts peace back in its place.  Right where it belongs – in my heart and soul.

Like my pups, I can look out at the world, regardless of the view, and know that The One beside me has my back and will be with me through every adventure that awaits.

Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

When I lean in, I find His strength, His comfort, His wisdom and words.

Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Proverbs 2:6 – For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Psalm 28:7 – The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

From that position I experience what it means to be connected.  Quiet.  Together.

Exodus 33:14 – And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Psalm 23:1-3 – The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.

Look at those dogs again.  No barking or running or whining. Just contentment in their friendship, in looking out at the world with the knowledge that whatever comes their way, they will face it together.

Which, in their case, would be a squirrel that would soon break the silence of that precious moment as they’d go scampering off together to chase it.

Look out that window today and know that you are not alone.

Lean in and let the promise of God’s presence adjust your vision of the view.  

Enjoy that presence and the peace that comes with knowing He will never, ever leave you.

And then go and chase that “squirrel” with Him….♥

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When The Walls Smile And The Floors Sigh

Yesterday brought me another vacant house.

empty room

I could feel the emptiness when I walked in.

All of life had literally been sucked out of its walls, with the departure of its owners.

The walls seemed sad as their blank faces stared at me.  They looked especially pale, void of any portraits or signs of life to add a little color to their cheeks.  Just random nails poking out here and there like a bad case of acne.

The floors were clean, but flat.  Boring.  They seemed to be pining away for something to do. Their purpose ripped away from them when the moving van left the driveway.  They had gone days without even the pitter patter of little feet gracing their surface.

The silence echoed.

No whir of appliances.  No laughter or conversation.

Personality had left this four-bedroom bungalow, and now it sat lifeless as a blank slate.

This house was no longer a home.

And it was my job to make it one.

To bring something back to life and into the market of interested buyers who want more than just an empty box to look at.

This house, like all the others before and after it, had specific needs.

Specific quirks and qualities that needed to be addressed in specific ways.

Nine hours and lots of work later, it was no longer the same.

In came furniture, art, bedding.

Those protruding nails were used to hang beauty.

The floors were once again put to good use.

Empty rooms were filled with comfort and invitation.

Life was once again returning to the building.

I swear I saw the walls smile, their cheeks flush with the excitement of feeling pretty again.

Even the floors creaked a bit, seeming to sigh with gratitude for another chance to serve.

As I left, locking the door of this house-become-home, it occurred to me that each of us is not too different from this little rambler.

Unique in our quirks and qualities.  Desperate for purpose.  Longing for color and life.

And hopefully, empty.

Empty enough, trusting enough to let the Great Interior Designer come in and do what needs to be done to make our hearts into a true home.

What it was always meant to be.

A home for Him.  A home for others.

A warm, inviting place.

He can adorn those blank walls of our lives, using those nasty acne-type nails of circumstance and failure to hang beautiful pictures of glorious stories of His miraculous work.

He can give purpose to our flat floors of confusion or hopelessness.  He can show us the value of each plank and how He intends to use it to support others, to serve as a dance floor of celebration for us, Himself and others to enjoy.

He brings the color of real, true life.

He adds the comfort of His Spirit.

The music of His presence.

And, suddenly, our empty, quirky little house becomes His beautiful home.

Can you feel your walls smiling and your happy floors creaking in delight?

Isaiah 43:19 – For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Ephesians 3:17-19 –  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Philippians 1:6 – And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

 

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In The Cracks And Between The Lines

I’m standing here in front of the mirror.  Counting lines and frowning at the number.  I quickly stop myself from frowning, knowing that will only add to the sum of these unwelcome parts.

And while I’m left wondering when and where the next will show up, I remember someone from long ago….

Years ago, there was a beautiful woman in my life.

But she would never grace the cover of any magazine.

Her face was more wrinkled than any I had ever seen at her age.

Deep creases marked the entire surface.

She smiled continually, which highlighted every crack and shifted every crevice to new places. She laughed easily, crows feet reaching to laugh lines.

Crinkled velvet.  Soft and loose to the touch like a well-loved blanket.

And, to me, she was breathtakingly beautiful, as if her soul were peeking out through every indentation.

I didn’t have the privilege of knowing this lovely being when she was young, before life had its way with her, body, mind and soul.

But I had the distinct honor of enjoying what time had left in its wake.

Circumstances, joy and pain, gain and loss created something so intensely beautiful that it leaked through every pore of her wrinkled skin.

She looked like wisdom.

Love.

Gentleness.

Understanding.

Forgiveness.

In the war of life, these were the survivors that remained, alive and well, more vibrant than ever.

Her hugs melted, soothed, spoke volumes without a word.

But when her words came, when that gloriously marked face spoke, wisdom poured out like liquid gold.

Every syllable was wrapped in love and the understanding of life and human nature.  Her advice was gentle but to the point that she knew was too important to dismiss.

Every encouragement that made its way out of that crinkly velvet face went not only to the mind, but continued straight to the heart, where it would nestle down and stay. Tucked away for future use and purpose.

I have no idea what credentials this woman had or how many degrees or lack thereof existed on her resume. But it didn’t matter.

Because what she gave to the world around her wasn’t learned in a classroom or from a textbook.

She didn’t just possess knowledge.  She had attained wisdom.

A lifetime of lessons, of the ups and downs of circumstance, of great joy and deep sorrow, that not only marked and softened a face, but marked and softened a soul.

A soul that was willing to share that wisdom with those who would listen.  A soul that had KNOWN life and lived to tell the tale in a way that would benefit others.

I still see her in my mind.  Beautiful as ever. 

I have lost contact with this dear soul.  But her lessons of true wisdom, selfless giving and tender interaction will forever grace my heart.

And as time is showing itself now on MY face, I can only hope it has also done to my heart and soul what it did to hers.

Wisdom in the cracks.

Love in the lines.

Understanding in the crevices.

Beauty through a life.

James 3:17 – But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Proverbs 31:30 – Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. (MSG)

Colossians 2:2-3 – My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

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Some Sweet Inspiration From Washington State

IMG_2441IMG_2443After yesterday’s post, Marcia Robinson, from Washington State (who also happens to be my wonderfully creative aunt!) sent these pictures of things she has created in her gorgeous backyard, made from old pallets and a recycled door.  They are set as splashes of color and intrigue in what she calls her “shade garden”.

What you can’t see in the first picture is that she up-cycled an old shovel, attached it to the pallet wall and added chicken wire and flowers to adorn it. The swing you see in the second picture is actually a bit behind the “open house” entrance into her wonderland of beauty.

Love it, Aunt Marcia!  Thanks for inspiring us with your We-Do/Re-Do projects!

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